If there’s one thing that’s held true during Brian Cashman‘s tenure in recent years, it’s that he’s very willing to practice patience. He’s waited out both the free agent (Hiroki Kuroda, for example) and trade (Bobby Abreu) markets to get better than advertised prices, and for the most part it’s worked out wonderfully. As he indicated to reporters yesterday, patience is again his primary tactic this offseason.
“The preference is always to get your problems solved and get them fixed,” said Cashman. “But the realistic side of that is that it’s going to take time and you have to solve it over time. If you don’t feel comfortable with the solution, you shouldn’t solve it until you feel comfortable. I’m prepared to drag this thing out.”
Patience was a fine approach these last few years but times have obviously changed. The market is flush with cash thanks to the new television deals and the inability to funnel money into the draft and international markets, so Major League free agents are getting paid handsomely. As the Yankees preach patience, the players they want are no longer falling into their laps. Eric Chavez won’t be there to sign in February because he took a $3M deal from the Diamondbacks, more money than New York paid him in the previous two years combined. Jeff Keppinger, another one of the team’s targets, actually took less money to sign with the White Sox for whatever reason.
“I think that we’ll be in a position, I would think, to leave here with doing something,” added Cashman. “But that doesn’t mean we will. I want to come here every time I go to the Winter Meetings, I want to get something done. I’ve been disappointed many times leaving, but that’s not going to make me do something.”
The Yankees are scaling back their spending as the price of talent is going up, and that’s a very bad thing. They don’t have the internal pieces to plug their various position player holes — a major black mark on Cashman & Co. given his constant preaching of building through the farm system — meaning they are at the mercy of the free agent market. Maybe the patient approach will work and some new targets will surface in the coming weeks, but right now it’s tough to see how the Yankees will go into next season with something other than a significant downgrade on the offensive side of the ball. After enjoying the benefits of patience, this new market might be the one that leaves Cashman empty-handed at the end of the winter.
Via Jon Heyman & Jack Magruder: The Diamondbacks have agreed to sign Eric Chavez. It’s a one-year deal worth $3M, and Ken Davidoff says the Yankees never held substantive contract talks with their former backup corner infielder. The third base options continue to come off the board. · (107) ·
Via Howie Kussoy: Mariano Rivera will announce his plans for 2014 at some point early next year. “I’ll tell you in Spring Training,” he said at a charity event yesterday. “Spring Training is going to be the date.”
Rivera, 43, debated between retirement and playing again after the season only to announce his return. I think we’ve all assumed next season would be his final year, and in fact Mo confirmed to Kussoy that he would appreciate a Chipper Jones-style fairwell tour. Rivera could easily announce an intention to pitch in 2014, but it seems pretty obvious the retirement announcement is on its way in a few weeks. · (16) ·
This is probably something I should have pieced together last week, prior to the Winter Meetings, but better late than never I suppose. Here’s a breakdown of the Yankees’ current payroll situation for 2013…
- Existing Contracts ($121M): Alex Rodriguez ($28M), CC Sabathia ($23M), Mark Teixeira ($22.5M), Derek Jeter ($17M), Robinson Cano ($15M), Curtis Granderson ($15M), David Aardsma ($500k)
- Players Signed In Offseason ($37M): Hiroki Kuroda ($15M), Andy Pettitte ($12M), Mariano Rivera ($10M)
- Projected Arbitration Salaries ($15.8M): Phil Hughes ($5.7M), Boone Logan ($2.8M), Brett Gardner ($2.8M), David Robertson ($2.7M), Joba Chamberlain ($1.8M)
- Buyouts & Dead Money ($8.75M): A.J. Burnett ($8.5M), Pedro Feliciano ($250k)
That adds up to $182.55M for only 15 40-man rosters spots, and that’s real dollars being spent. It’s not average annual value for luxury tax purposes. The 15 players who are on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man active roster will earn the league minimum ($480k-ish), so let’s just estimate them at $7.5M total ($500k each). That brings us up to $190.05M with ten roster spots to fill.
The Yankees have started each of the last five seasons with an Opening Day payroll between $200-214M (again, real dollars), and I assume they’re willing to spend that much again this year. We know they’re trying to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold for 2014, but they’re theoretically in the clear for 2013. Opening next season with a similar payroll means they have anywhere from $10-24M to spend during the remainder of the offseason, and their holes include a right fielder, a catcher, a good utility infielder, and bench pieces. League minimum guys like Chris Stewart, Eduardo Nunez, David Phelps, Ivan Nova, and Clay Rapada mean it’s really $7.5-21.5M for five roster spots.
Barring an unexpected trade, it’s tough to see the Yankees spending much money on a backstop given the available options and their reported disinterest in A.J. Pierzynski. Even a (very unlikely) trade for Carlos Santana wouldn’t put a big dent in the budget because he’s due just $550k next season as part of his long-term contract. A right fielder could range anywhere from dirt cheap (Nate Schierholtz at $2M?) to pretty pricey (Justin Upton at $9.75M?). Jeff Keppinger could wind up with $4-6M annually while Asdrubal Cabrera is owed $6.5M. I guess that’s the going rate for a replacement third baseman/high-end utility infielder.
As frustrating as it is to watch the Yankees sit on the sidelines so far this week, I do think there’s some good to come from it. Some of the recently-signed free agent contracts have struck me as big overpays, talking specifically talking about guys like Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Shane Victorino. All nice players in their own way, but they got more money and one more year than I expected. Avoiding an overpay like that is a good thing for New York for obvious reasons, 2014 payroll plan or not. Either way, hopefully they’re planning to spend on the high end of that $7.5-21.5M range over so they can make one more serious run before scaling back payroll.
Day Two of the Winter Meetings was busier than Day One for the Yankees even though they didn’t make any moves or announce another Alex Rodriguez injury. Brian Cashman confirmed speaking to the representatives for Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez. Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds were also said to be on the team’s radar.
- 5:14pm: Reynolds is seeking a similar salary to the $7.5M he made in 2012. [Bryan Hoch]
- 4:42pm: The Yankees have been talking to the representatives for Mark Reynolds about playing third base. [Sherman]
- 1:20pm: The Yankees have been exchanging trade proposals with other teams about their players, including Curtis Granderson according to Buster Olney. He cautions that this is typical and the not necessarily an indication that something serious is brewing.
- 1:11pm: A deal between the Yankees and Youkilis is unlikely, and Keppinger remains the team’s top third base target. Agreeing to a contract length will be an issue. [Mark Feinsand]
- 10:56am: The Yankees checked in with Hannahan but are not very serious about signing him. Due diligence, I suppose. [Jordan Bastian]
- 10:16am: Nate Schierholtz is making “good progress” towards his next deal and the Yankees are considered the early front-runner to sign him. That would be swell in my opinion. [Buster Olney]
- 9:30am: The Yankees “really want” Keppinger and he could wind up with a three-year deal worth $13M. They’ve let Keppinger’s camp know they’ll give him two years. [Danny Knobler & Joel Sherman]
- There are “strong indications” the Yankees will not seriously pursue Pierzynski. A White Sox official indicated the catcher would be more willing to take a one-year deal with the Bombers than with any other team. [Sherman]
- Free agent infielder Jack Hannahan is also of “some interest” to New York. The 32-year-old is a great defensive third baseman who will draw a bunch of walks, but otherwise he can’t really hit. [Paul Hoynes]
All 30 managers meet with the media for 30-ish minutes during the Winter Meetings, and Joe Girardi held his Q&A session late this afternoon. It’s pretty typical of Yankees people to speak a lot of words but not actually say much, and this was no different. I don’t have the audio to share because the quality is awful, but here’s a recap…
- Girardi confirmed what Brian Cashman said yesterday, that A-Rod didn’t say anything about his hip until being pinch-hit for in Game Three of the ALCS. “His hips weren’t firing right. It wasn’t pain but he felt it was not the explosiveness … I was somewhat worried because he’d been through it on his right hip and you’d think he’d know what the feeling was like. It wasn’t firing the way he thought.”
- A-Rod went for an MRI on his right hip after the game, and when it came back clean Girardi kept playing him. He did acknowledge Alex “did look different than he did before he got hurt.” The team doesn’t know exactly when the injury happened.
- On losing A-Rod for the first half of next year: “It’s big. You go into an offseason and you feel you have to address certain areas and all of a sudden you get a little bit of a surprise. It’s a pretty big hole to fill, and it may not necessarily be (filled) with one person.”
- “I’m not sure,” said the skipper when asked about any tension in his relationship with A-Rod. “It probably answers a lot of questions — he wasn’t the Alex we saw before the injury. Now we have a reason, possibly why.”
Day Two of the Winter Meeting is (almost) in the books, and the Yankees have yet to do anything fancy other than confirm Alex Rodriguez‘s new hip injury. Not exactly what we were all hoping for, I assume. Here’s a look back at today’s rumors in case you missed some of them. Seems like the Yankees have officially shifted their focus towards finding a new third baseman.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Nets are playing and that’s pretty much it. Talk about whatever here, enjoy.
Via Jayson Stark: Instant replay is unlikely to be expanded in time for next season. MLB tested out a new system for fair-or-foul calls at Yankee Stadium and CitiField late last season, but the league can’t decide on a technology or how to employ it. We went through the exact same “MLB is looking into it … lol too bad” song and dance last offseason. · (17) ·
Via Ken Rosenthal & Wally Matthews: The Yankees are insured for at least 70% and possibly even 100% of Alex Rodriguez’s contract should his latest hip injury be so severe that he’s unable to play going forward. There are conditions that would have to be met (so many days on the DL, etc.) before the insurance payouts are triggered.
A-Rod, 37, is still owed $114M over the next five years. I doubt this new injury is that debilitating — Brian Cashman said doctors informed him Alex would have zero restrictions following the procedure and rehab — but I guess it’s good to know the team is covered in case it is. A-Rod would still get paid and his salary would still count against the luxury tax, so the only way the insurance money would be reinvested in the team would be if the Yankees increase payroll back over the luxury tax threshold in 2015. · (18) ·